A counterpunch is a punch that immediately follows an opponent’s punch exploiting openings created in their defence from the attack

An effective counterpuncher relies on defensive skills and reflex acquired from rounds of focus mitt and partner drills becoming instinctive, practising various defensive skills against a punch. These skills include blocking, parry, slip and ducking to name a few, along with recognising specific idiosyncratic signs an opponent would display when about to commit with a punch, the most common traits being the elbow lifting or shoulder flinch prior to punching.

It is also important to maintain appropriate range (distance) from an opponent to be to anticipate and react to a punch and successfully score with your own counterpunch:

Block – is effective in crowding your opponent’s punch and closing the range especially against a taller opponent, examples of blocking an opponent’s jab is:

  • Catching the jab with your lead glove before opponent’s jab arm fully extends leaving opponent vulnerable to a counter cross and hook;
  • Double forearm block stepping forward as opponent is in the process of punching with the jab, this does not allow the arm to fully extend leaving opponent vulnerable to a counter cross and hook.

Close range block – in a close range position with opponent, keep elbows tucked into ribs and gloves resting on cheeks offering protection, bend knees slightly to make yourself a smaller target and reducing shock to the body when punch lands:

  • When opponent’s lead hook or uppercut lands on glove or elbow / forearm, roll upper body away from punch reducing impact and immediately counterpunch with a hook or uppercut from opposite side;
  • When opponent’s lead hook or uppercut lands on glove or elbow / forearm, roll upper body away from punch reducing impact and immediately counterpunch with a hook or uppercut from opposite side.

Parry – is effective in deflecting punch disrupting opponent’s balance and timing:

  • Opponent starts with jab, with rear hand lightly deflect punch away from face and immediately counter jab, cross and hook;
  • Opponent starts with jab, with rear hand lightly deflect punch away from face and immediately counter cross and hook.

Slip – enables you to close the range and making opponent miss with their punch leaving them vulnerable to a counterpunch:

  • Opponent starts with jab, step forward closing range, slip to the outside and either counter with jab to head / chest or right hook to the left side of opponent’s ribs;
  • Opponent starts with jab, step forward closing range, slip to the inside and either counter with cross to head / chest or left hook to the right side of opponent’s ribs.

Ducking is an effecting defensive move both at long range to evade opponent’s punch and close range to successfully counterpunch, and close range to duck under hooks and immediately counterpunch.

Finally, using a feint tactic to make an opponent commit to attacking by using eye, shoulder, glove or foot movement making them think you are about to attack, leaving them vulnerable to your counterpunches.

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Bobby Mayne
Bobby Mayne is the Head Coach at Boxrite Boxing Club and author of several boxing coaching books including the bestselling "The Art of Boxing: Your Guide to the Sweet Science". Mayne has been involved in boxing since 1981. He has trained professional boxers such as Australian Daniel Dawson to compete at the world level, becoming a world contender and ultimately the WBF World Superwelterweight Champion. He also assisted in the training of top boxers from the Philippines including Rey Megrino and Rey Loreto, who were both successful in winning their respective WBC Regional and WBO World Flyweight titles.

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